MIDDLETOWN — Pat Kreke admitted he was shocked to find out his decades-long run with Fenwick High School’s boys basketball program was over.
Kreke was informed Friday by Fenwick athletic director Michael Coleman that the school isn’t renewing his head coaching contract, leaving him with a 380-306 record in 30 years at the FHS helm.
“There’s no doubt I was angry and stunned,” Kreke said. “I still believe that I’m the best person to be in charge of the program.”
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He got the news at his annual evaluation. He met with Coleman first, and a second meeting with Coleman and Fenwick principal Blane Collison followed.
Kreke said the reason for his dismissal was essentially “my coaching style” and the fact that his approach didn’t match what the school wants at this time.
“I think what they said about wanting the transformational coach and going in that direction was what the meeting was about,” Kreke said.
Coleman responded to a Cox Media interview request by texting the following statement:
“Pat is a great guy who has built a tremendous legacy at Fenwick over the past 41 years. Eventually there comes a time when you have to turn the page to the next chapter for various reasons, and that’s what we decided to do. Although we have big shoes to fill, I am confident that we will find a coach who will be a great fit for Fenwick.
“The overall goal is to make sure that all of our programs align with our purpose: Bishop Fenwick provides education-based athletic programs while using sports as a platform to provide positive transformational experiences in the lives of our student-athletes.”
Coleman declined to elaborate when asked about the “various reasons” for the move.
Kreke, who will turn 62 in a few weeks, was Fenwick’s junior varsity coach under John “Butch” Rossi for eight seasons.
He was at Fenwick for seven years, then at St. Bernard as an assistant for three seasons, then back at Fenwick for one year before becoming the head coach in 1989-90.
The Falcons finished 16-9 this season and were 46-27 over the last three years.
Kreke will continue to teach health and physical education at Fenwick. He has no plans to retire and didn’t have an immediate goal to get out of coaching.
“I’ve got a grandson that’s in fourth grade and looking at Fenwick as the possible high school he was going to attend,” said Kreke, a 1975 Badin graduate who lives in Hamilton. “I figured I would coach three or four more years before he got there and then exit just to be a grandfather and watch him.”
Will it be awkward to roam the halls of Fenwick now that he’s been ousted from his basketball job?
“Yes, but most of my time is still in the classroom with the kids, and I’m still going to enjoy that,” Kreke said. “It’ll be fine. Basketball season will be tough next year.”
Asked if he expected to coach again in the future, he replied, “I’d say I’m going to give myself some time and look at any options that may open up.”
Kreke composed a statement to sum up his time at Fenwick. It read like this:
“It has been an honor to be the head coach at Fenwick over the past 30 years, and I look forward to continuing my teaching career there. I assisted the late, great coach John ‘Butch’ Rossi, who taught me so much about the game, and I was elated to take over the storied program that he built. I am very proud of the program I continued to build not only as a basketball program, but as a program that develops boys into men through academics, service to their community and the life lessons we teach every day.
“My career has always been about my players. My life has been truly blessed to have been given the opportunity to coach such wonderful young men over the past 30 years. The love I have for them is truly immeasurable. The relationships I have built with so many of them I look at as the real accomplishments in my life. The outpouring of support from so many of them and many others from the Fenwick community has been a godsend to me. The winning and losing always took care of itself. The life lessons we teach and the relationships we build for a lifetime is what high school athletics is all about.
“I want to thank all the assistant coaches I have had through the years. There’s none better than the current staff I had this year. They have all been amazing and are definitely the reason for the successes of our players. I especially want to thank the University of Dayton’s all-time winningest coach Don Donoher, who has had such an amazing impact on my life as a coach, mentor and friend.
“Two of the most influential people in my life who are not with us today are Teddy Parrella and Fr. Chuck Mentrup, names that will live on forever in Fenwick’s history. There are so many past and present families of my players that have given me the support I needed in order for my program to be successful, some of which I have developed into lifelong friendships.
“I want to thank the many great coaches I have had the honor and pleasure to coach against, both past and present, especially the (Greater Catholic League) coaches I have grown to admire more every year. I want to thank my family for all the great support through the years, especially my mom Marian, late father John and my wife Juanita. I was blessed to be able to coach my two sons Joe and Rob, who were able to play on terrifically talented teams. I can’t thank them enough for their continued love and support.
“Finally, I want to wish the next Fenwick coach much luck and success. I would like to end with a quote from coach Bobby Knight that I feel describes the philosophy of my teams through the years: ‘To be as good as it can be, a team has to buy into what you as the coach are doing. They have to feel you’re a part of them and they’re a part of you.’ ”
Basketball and football are the two highest-profile sports at Fenwick. Football coach Dan Haverkamp said he was disheartened to hear about Kreke’s situation.
“Coach Kreke was incredibly supportive of the football program, and the entire Fenwick community will miss him,” Haverkamp said.